Friday, 22 November 2013

Family Finances on One Wage!

When we found out that we were going to have twins the fact that we would have three preschool children spelt the end of my working life, at least for a time, as childcare x 3 was not going to be covered by my salary. This delighted me, to be honest, as I have always wanted to be a stay at home mum. We've had to adapt a to manage on just my husband's wages and still afford the additional costs that having a family entails. This list is by no means exhaustive, they're just some of the things that we do.

* Check out supermarket own brands: I have discovered since having the twins that we were spending unnecessary money on our shopping, not the top brands, but perhaps the middle of the road priced items. It turns out, by careful experiment that there are many own brand items that are perfectly acceptable. We shop at Tesco and so far have switched to their Everyday Value cereals, bread, butter, shaving foam, pasta, tinned tomatoes and other vegetables and beans, flour, rice, basic spices and yoghurt. There are probably others. We drew the line at cheese, tea bags and cola, they were less impressive but I would recommend that you try something in your list every week to see if you can find an acceptable substitute to your usual brand and save money.

* Shop around: I frequent Aldi, Lidl and our pound shops and then get an online shop from Tesco each week. There are some key items that I always buy in each. When the girls were smaller we switched to Lidl nappies and saved a fortune, we had very few leaks. Baby wipes, wine, crisps, cleaning products and meat are other things I find I can save on by buying in Aldi or Lidl. BUT you have to know your prices and not get carried away because frequently Tesco Everyday prices are still better.

* Shop online: I suppose it depends what you're like but I know I would spend more if I went to the shop to do my main shopping. Doing it online gives me all week to get it right, to take things off if I realise we don't need them and it's less likely I will be side tracked and make an impulse purchase. Also, as we're on a delivery saver plan we are only paying about £2 a delivery, so I feel it's worth excusing me from an in person shop with two or three children in tow!

* Make packed lunches: My husband used to spend £5 a day on lunch. Now I batch make rolls and freeze them. For about an hours work I can make up to 6 weeks worth. I just pop them in the fridge the night before they are needed to defrost. I buy large multipacks of crisps and chocolate bars from Aldi or Lidl.

* Make soup: My lunches, at home, from September to April, are mostly soup because I love it and it's cheap. And I find if I make one batch a week and freeze it in portions,within a few weeks I have enough varieties not to need to eat the same one every day! In summer I eat pita breads, salads or couscous with whatever is leftover in the fridge!

* Try not to buy 'Children's Food': Our children eat Tesco Everyday Value fromage frais, they come in little pots like children's yoghurts but cost a fraction of the price. They have crackers, plain biscuits, oat cakes and breadsticks instead of Organix or other snacks targeted at children. You just have to take time reading the labels to make sure you're happy with the salt and sugar content. They eat crisps that come with the little bag of salt to add, I just throw that away so they are unsalted.

* Join local Facebook selling or freecycle groups: Pick up mostly second hand bargains or even freebies that will save you pounds on toys, household items and clothes.

* Scour your local charity shop, car boot sales and nearly new sales for similar items.

* Then sell your unwanted items once you have finished with them to fund your family's new needs. Equipment such as sterilisers, baby walkers, high chairs and buggies fetch the best prices. Clothes, books and toys less so. You can Ebay them or use the above!

* Buy second hand clothes: particularly for your children to play in outside or to attend messy toddler groups. Save their better clothes for best!

* Look out for 25% off clothes at Sainsburys: they do this several times a year, often around bank holidays. I love Sainsburys clothes and often wait for them to have the promotion on before I start the children's new season/size wardrobes.

* Make wine and beer: if you drink them. Look for tutorials online. You can buy beer making kit from Wilkinson.

* Grow vegetables: an obvious one. We don't grow a lot but we do grow lettuces and since I love to eat salad in summer it does help and it's so great to eat it fresh. I also grow herbs because they're very expensive to buy in the small quantities that the supermarkets sell them.

* Grow things you can make presents from: My husband grows chilies and every year I make a batch of chili jam which will be part of our Christmas presents. Lavender is easy to grow and has numerous present making possibilities.

* Make presents! I am crafty but even if you're not there are simple ideas which you will enjoy making and will be a much more personal gift than a shop bough one. Pintrest is great for finding ideas.

* Make greetings cards: If you're not very artistic then what about helping the children to make one? Again, much more personal than a shop bought card. You can buy proper greetings card envelopes on Ebay if you want your card to have a little more finesse!

* Look for free things to do when going out with the children: We love going to the park, playing outside and feeding the ducks and we also frequent the local pet shop quite often, the children love to look at the animals. Don't over complicate things. Children often love the most simple activities and learn a lot from everyday activities. I also love the toddler groups that we go to for £1 per family! Someone else's toys to play with, what could be better?!

I'm going to add to this list as other ideas come to me. Perhaps you could add your ideas below?

New Dollies

I've been a bit lapse in my blogging so now I have two Dollies to show you.

The first is a first for me. I received a vest with a tutu on it and I couldn't not use it. So this beautiful Maxi Dolly doesn't have a long paneled skirt but a gorgeous fluffy tutu!

And this lovely Mini Dolly was bought by a lady for her friend's baby! Awww! I love the floral vest I used for the dress.